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  • Writer's pictureKate Drexel

Easiest Way to Write a One-Paged Synopsis

Ahh, the dreaded one-paged synopsis. The bane of every author's existence.

Like every writer, it takes me F O R E V E R to write a synopsis because every damn part is important for the agent to know. And for the love of all that is (un)holy, MAKING IT ONE PAGE IS AN IMPOSSIBLE FEAT!

However, thanks to a little trick I learned a few months ago and at the wonderful suggestion of my excellent writer friend Cat Bakewell, I found an easier way to write a one-paged synopsis. I'm hoping this will ease any and all... may have.

Step One

Take lined notecards, just the small simple ones (doesn't matter what color they are, I choose standard white because I'm boring AF), and write a brief little recap on a chapter you've written (can be 1-4 bullets). Note that they don't have to be full or perfect sentences. They just have to recap the more important items like who the character is and what main point happened in the chapter.

Using Gone Girl as an example:

Chapter One (notecard one):

  • Nick Dunne does his morning routine then drives over to The Bar (a bar where his sister works)

  • Worried about his marriage (fifth wedding anniversary that day)

Chapter Two (notecard two):

  • From Amy Dunne's point of view, before their marriage.

  • Amy recounts the night they met at a party

Chapter Three (notecard three) and so on and so forth. Write on each notecard until you've finished the book

Step Two

Take some time after you've completed your first draft, make the edits and to avoid any confusion, use a different colored pen for added information to each notecard.

Gone Girl example part two:

Chapter One (notecard one):

  • Nick Dunne does his morning routine then drives over to The Bar (a bar where his sister works)

  • Worried about his marriage (fifth wedding anniversary that day)

  • Nick doesn't go into The Bar yet

Complete this until you've made the additions from your revisions to your notecards.

Step Three

Once revisions are completely and totally done, layout your notecards and sift through until you've set out the ones with the major plot points.

I could give a third Gone Girl example here, however, my brain is too chock full of what's happening DARK EXPOSURE (and I can't very well give examples on that), so I'm struggling with what to provide as a sample.

Basically, the main point of this step is which notecard contains the plot point with the most import.

Now I know I have a better way to explain this so here it goes:

Notecard one is important because it explains who the character is and what they're going through.

Notecard four is important because this major plot turning event happens.

Notecard nine is important because this big thing happens.

Does that make sense? I hope it does.

TLDR; below is a picture encapsulating everything I just explained above. I apologize, I'm running on fumes, working to finish this book, maintain a social life, taking mental health days, working, and balancing everything in between. It's hard work, y'all!


Troubleshooting: Two-Pager Synopsis

If your synopsis becomes a two-pager, read through and discern which piece of information can be removed, or consolidate two or three sentences into one sentence.

Here I can use another Gone Girl example:

"Nick learns Amy knows about his affair with his student. He tries to continuously explain his innocence in his wife's disappearance. He doesn't know that Amy is framing him for murder."

That sentence can be: "Amy frames Nick for her supposed murder after learning about his affair with his student."

Troubleshooting: Crazy Long Chapter

If your chapter is a long ass one, just write the main damn thing on the notecard. Don't detail it. Just say it in one sentence: What. Happened. In. This. Chapter? Just the big main point, like "This crazy thing happened and it pushed the plot along."


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